“What is this?” I asked myself when I first spotted this sculpture at the entrance of the Hyde Park Art Center’s recent exhibit Hairy Blob. I’m currently taking a photography class there (just wait, there will be more photography adventures on this blog!), and I love that going to the Art Center on a regular basis exposes me to all this creativity and whimsy.

I have often wandered the halls or galleries of the Hyde Park Art Center, usually picking up my kids from a ceramics class, and have been pleasantly surprised by a piece of art that makes me smile and see our world in a different way, which is what art is supposed to do, right?

In this case, what at first looks like a stack of gleaming bricks turns out to be a tower of encyclopedias, a sculpture called Sunsets by Lauren Carter. Being a bookish person, I of course loved this idea. It seems rather simple and yet, come to think of it, this tower is finely calibrated and would be rather laborious to execute, to say nothing of being rather heavy to move.

As the exhibition description so nicely says, Sunsets presents a canon of knowledge for what it materially is, and so a stack of gilded encyclopedias becomes a mirror. I can’t help but think about how encyclopedias are a thing of the past, now that we type our questions into Google rather than go to a bookshelf and flip through an encyclopedia. And thus perhaps these books have become like the ornate gilded mirrors we find in the palaces of the past: beautiful to look at but no longer a part of life.